, Volume 29, Issue 3, pp 203-215

A Statewide Survey of Age at First Intercourse for Adolescent Females and Age of Their Male Partners: Relation to Other Risk Behaviors and Statutory Rape Implications

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Abstract

In a statewide survey of a representative sample of adolescent girls in 8th–12th grades (N = 4201), information was obtained on age at first intercourse and age of their male partners. Excluding intercourse experiences where physical force was threatened or used, 31% had intercourse by age 15 and 45% by age 16. Contrary to the impression left by studies of teenage mothers, girls who first had sex between age 13 and age 15 or between age 16 and age 18 did not have a large percentage of much older partners (5 or more years older; 12 and 7%, respectively). The percentage of much older partners was higher, however, for girls who had sex in very early adolescence, ages 11–12 (34%). Much older male partners were associated with greater problem behaviors for girls who first had intercourse in very early adolescence (11–12), but less so for those who first had intercourse between age 13 and age 15 (truancy only) and not at all for those who first had intercourse at between 16 and 18. Regardless of partner's age disparity, earlier age at first intercourse during adolescence was associated with a greater number of other problem behaviors. The implications of these findings for recent calls to enforce statutory rape laws more stringently to reduce teenage pregnancy were discussed.